Archive for the ‘2 Timothy 4’ Category

Note: This is my rough notes from my Kindle.  I shared this because today there are so many unbiblical ideas of what is “success” in the ministry.  This sermon is by a professor at The Master’s Seminary.

Nathan Busenitz

Nathan Busenitz’ Shepherd’s Conference: What does it mean to be successful?

2 Timothy 4

How do you measure success in ministry?  For the last two hundreds years it’s been about numbers…how many attending, how much offering, etc.  But is that how the Word of God measure success?

We must remember success isn’t necessarily a bad word.

Look at Hebrews 11:35; there are suffering.  From the world’s perspective they can hardly be consider successful since successful people don’t get mocking, imprisonment, etc.  If success is measured by prestige and popularity then these men were not successful.  But if success is measured by faithfulness then they were successful.  Many of our heroes of the faith were ridiculed and persecuted from the Bible and history.

Look at Jonah and Jeremiah and the stark contrast.  Jonah had numbers, Jeremiah didn’t but it was Jeremiah was more faithful.

2 Timothy 4 was written by Paul in the last leg of his life and ministry.  It was written to Timothy, a young man who was just beginning his ministry and he needed to be reminded of what is biblica ministry’s success.

Whether you are at the beginning or end of ministry, the principles articulated in this passage applies to all ministers this side of heaven.

Purpose: Three contrasts between worldly versus biblical success.

  1. A contrast in the motivation for service (v.1-5)
  2. A contrast in the measure of success (v.6-8)
  3. A contrast in the mindest about suffering (v.9-15)


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During Shepherd’s Conference Phil Johnson mentioned about how Wikipedia had an entry on “Itching Ears,” a phrase located in the Bible in 2 Timothy 4:3-4.

That entry stated,

Itching ears is a term used in the Bible to describe a person who will come across a large fortune

(Original Link)

It’s an example of what happens when you just cite something you read without further research to see if it is so (and why Wikipedia isn’t always accurate!).  Preachers can make the same fallacy in their preaching and saying a Greek/Hebrew word means this or that, because some commentary says so, without seeing if there are any other Biblical or extrabiblical usage of the same word, phrase or grammatical construct.

Let this be a lesson in not having itching ears ourselves, of only hearing what we want to hear, or what “preaches” when it’s not really there.

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